The Thomas Glacier Training Center on a mountain shoulder at the edge of Eagle Glacier.
Nordic ski training in the summer? No problem, its Alaska! The Thomas Glacier Training Center at the edge of Eagle Glacier in the Chugach Mountains is easily accessible for summer training. If you are part of the Alaska Pacific University ski team, and if a helicopter service just happens to be located at the foot of the mountain! That service is Alpine Air Alaska, anchor of the Girdwood Airstrip. Trusted flight service for athletes, gear, fuel, snowmachines, and of course tons of calories in the form of groceries.
Locational reference of Thomas Training Center at the Girdwood Edge of the Chugach Mountains.
Every summer, Alpine Air is humbled to transport the elite athletes comprising the men’s and women’s award winning nordic ski team and their world renowned coach, Eric Flora to Eagle Glacier for training. Yes, the athletes have those fancy wheeled skis to rock the streets and paths of Anchorage, but training on real snow where coach Flora can re-create competition trails is a race advantage. Last year, Flora was able to groom trails in the same pattern as those the athletes would race on at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. With the vast ice fields gracing many mountain ranges in Alaska, the local teams are lucky to have access to quality training nearly all year.
From KTUU Facebook, 2015
How does the gear get to the Training Center? On sling lines. Each load is carefully weighed to meet safe carrying requirements for the aircraft. Then gear is loaded on a pallet which is encased by a loading net. If it is soft gear such as duffel bags, the gear is placed directly into nets. The nets are closed to each of four corners then attached to a hook connected to a line which is hooked on the belly of the aircraft. When the aircraft transports supplies by sling line, it does not carry passengers. It takes many flights to stock the Training Center for each week of service. Crew members at Alpine Air know their roles and are directed by the chief pilot as to who will perform what task. The tight knit crew operates like a well oiled machine ensuring efficient flights and comfortable travels for passengers. It is always an exciting day when loading gear and athletes on one aircraft after another for several hours!
Gear transported via sling line from the ramp of Alpine Air in Girdwood
The Women's Nordic ski team show their appreciation for Keith, Owner and Pilot of Alpine Air Alaska
Groups that take advantage of the Thomas Glacier Training Center include the APU teams, the Nordic Masters, and other teams from around the world. To learn more about the Center, visit this APU website http://www.alaskapacific.edu/nordic/thomas-glacier-training-center/
For Nordic ski training coverage by the Alaska Dispatch News with photos, visit this site https://www.adn.com/node/1612461
Amazing athlete blogs
Kikkan Randall talks about Eagle Glacier on APRN
Coverage on local NBC affiliate KTUU